Choosing a sub 500 euro/dollar DAP for the road...
Feb 4, 2015 at 12:11 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

mattiav

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Hi guys,
 
I've been lurking around the forums for quite some time, and figured it was time to come out of the woodwork because I'm having a little trouble seeing the forest for the trees! I'm an amateur musician (acoustic guitar, mostly, some electric) and guitar builder (more fun than playing) and love to listen to music on the go. I've got an old iPod 5G that's on its last legs (battery replaced, dying, cracked screen and charging problems), an iPhone 5 for everyday carry, but it's not my ideal music playing device by any stretch of the imagination.
 
I'm looking for a relatively lightweight, svelte, high quality portable digital audio player. 400 to 500 is the top end of my budget, if worth it, although I'd prefer to stay below it. I mostly listen with my Shure SE535 IEMs, genres range from singer/songwriter, lots of live/acoustic music, to rock (from classic to metal) and alternative/indie, with a smattering of jazz. No techno, R&B, or rap, in case that helps people pick and chose. Occasionally also use Bose QC20i in-ears, although mostly on the plane where I find the active noise cancelling beats out the admittedly still good isolation on the Shures for casual listening, and still comes in a smaller package (over ears are too bulky for me on the road). They are significantly worse sounding headphones, though, but a godsend on 11+ hours flights :)
 
I'm not interested in a seperate player/headphone amp combo, because I'm looking for a good solution for backpack travel, where I want to keep weight down, battery life up. I've found a few good deals on an AK100 mkII, but can't audition it locally, and then there are the Fiio players (looking at the X5) or the iBasso DX90 (or DX50). Any other contenders I should consider? I was also pondering the Fiio X1, simply because it's cheap and cheerful and might work well enough for travel, where there is always a higher risk of theft/loss than at home.
 
Thoughts welcome!
 
Feb 5, 2015 at 1:18 AM Post #3 of 7

ProtegeManiac

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If you'll be using IEMs exclusively get the Fiio X1, spend the savings on music or put it towards other gear later on (new CIEMs, a desktop rig, etc). I'd still say get a powerbank if you don't have one - anyways you can use that on your smartphone too.
 
Feb 5, 2015 at 2:40 AM Post #4 of 7

KG Jag

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  If you'll be using IEMs exclusively get the Fiio X1, spend the savings on music or put it towards other gear later on (new CIEMs, a desktop rig, etc). I'd still say get a powerbank if you don't have one - anyways you can use that on your smartphone too.


Why does his use of the very highly regarded (and certainly not inexpensive) Shure indicate a choice of the X1 over the other three higher quality DAP's?
 
Feb 5, 2015 at 10:08 AM Post #5 of 7

ProtegeManiac

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Why does his use of the very highly regarded (and certainly not inexpensive) Shure indicate a choice of the X1 over the other three higher quality DAP's?

 
I wasn't referring to his Shures only but for a number of other reasons drawn from his post.
 
1. If he wasn't planning on using any harder to drive headphones anyway, then 100mW is plenty or power and control along with a 100-step attenuator. Not that the others don't have the last one, but the thing is, how many IEMs would he be able to use more than 100mW for at low THD and without blowing out his eardrums?
 
2. He has concerns about the statistical likelihood of losing them, which might be legit - like if by Euros he also meant "too many (I don't want to get another warning from the Mods but anyone who lives in or has been to Europe will likely know what group of people I'm talking about) along his daily commute or conceivable travel destinations (like Rome or Madrid)"
 
3. He dedicated like three sentences to how important it was that it basically be as compact as possible - anything smaller than the X1 has a tiny screen that makes high cap SD cards a pain to navigate.
 
Thus, a $100 device that he can easily replace if anything happens to it, that he can more easily find a case to keep in along with one IEM if he can store it into the same container (like putting the Shures in a soft pouch or the cable organizer section of an HDD case, with the X1 on the opposite side), that will also save him $400, isn't a bad choice at all.
 
Feb 5, 2015 at 1:22 PM Post #6 of 7

mattiav

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Thanks for the replies so far, guys!
 
I don't have any real concerns about loss/theft here at home (The Netherlands, pretty safe where I am...), and I have pretty comprehensive electronic stuff insurance for when I'm on the road (particularly the 3000-4000 euros/dollars worth of camera stuff that's pretty much always in my travel pack), but I see that as 'necessary costs' when I'm travelling (travel photo nut). Ideally I want to find somewhere I can audition the players first, but that doesn't look very likely so far.
 
In terms of 'audiophile aspirations' I already have several 'expensive' hobbies, and the Shure IEMs are at the top end of what I'm comfortable spending, at least at my current level of disposable income. However, my fondness for other non-cheap extracurriculars (photography and woodworking/instrument building, in particular) has taught me the wisdom of 'penny wise, pound foolish' - something like the X1 looks like it's a lot of fun, and pretty good value, but I might be better off simply spending a little more and getting the sound I want out of it. My home listening is either while I'm working on other stuff (so again, portable) or sitting behind the computer, where I tend to use the Focursite Scarlett USB interface powering KRK VXT6 powered monitors, which I enjoy a good deal.
 
I'm also certainly getting a powerbank, probably and Anker 2nd Gen E5 or similar, to handle both audio and camera battery (in emergencies) charging for the road.
 

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